Today, February 17th, we celebrate Acts of Kindness Day.
In this honor, we wanted to highlight some of the incredible acts of kindness performed by United Hatzalah. The entire organization is built on kindness, so what we are talking about is the icing on the cake, beyond the basic and typical good deeds.
Our volunteers spend hours saving lives and helping others- dayeinu. That would be (more than) enough! However, more times than you can count, these volunteers go above and beyond the call of duty to help others. A great example of this is when our volunteers visit the patients they treated to see how they are recovering. Many of the EMTs visit the patients in the hospital and gift them with flowers or balloons.
One time, an EMT rushed to the rescue of a mother who went into labor in her home. She was transferred to the hospital but felt that she needed her husband to join her, even though that would mean that her other children would be left home alone. Our volunteer offered to stay at their house and babysit their children. After feeding the kids and putting them to sleep, he cleaned the house so the couple should come home to a relaxing environment.
There are so many more examples that we could never even begin to scratch the surface in one blog entry. Just to give you a taste of what is going on behind the scenes at United Hatzalah, here are some extraordinary examples of kindness.
Let it Snow:
When a surprising snowstorm hit Israel around two weeks ago, hundreds of people were stranded due to highways being closed. Among those stranded were a newly wedded bride and groom who were stuck in a wedding hall in Ma’aleh HaChamisha, together with hundreds of their guests, unable to return home.
The hapless newlyweds tried to find a way home and someone reached out to emergency services to assist. United Hatzalah’s Dispatch Center received the alert and sent volunteers with an emergency all-terrain vehicle to help. Despite the heavy snowfall, the volunteers traveled from Jerusalem to Ma’aleh HaHamisha and came to the assistance of the bride and groom.
The guests escorted the couple as they walked out to the United Hatzalah vehicle with singing and dancing. The couple was brought safely to their home in Bayit VaGan to conclude the most momentous day of their lives thus far.
Transport for Free:
More recently, on February 15th, Founder and President of United Hatzalah Eli Beer, was told that there was a 63-year-old Canadian woman in the hospital in Tzfat, (a mother of 10 and grandmother to over 30), that suffered a heart attack. She needed to be transferred to Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv for emergency triple bypass surgery.
Eli made some calls which led her to be successfully transferred that very same evening, at no cost. Our EMTs and paramedics volunteered hours of their time to help this woman transfer hospitals safely.
Corona and its silver lining:
Israel has faced several lockdowns during Corona that have made life rather challenging. United Hatzalah welcomed the opportunity, setting up an immediate dispatch center to help anyone with anything, whether it was related to medical help or not.
The stories are endless; EMTs picking up and delivering medications to people who could not leave their house, perchasing groceries for the elderly or pregnant women, and changing light bulbs for wheelchair-bound people. But maybe the most remarkable story is when Ibrahim Ayutai, a Muslim medic from Jaffa, was told that there was an elderly woman who called the hotline because she did not have candles to light for the holiday of Passover. Ibrahim went out and bought her candles and a bouquet of flowers, and brought them to her in just the nick of time. Before he left, he noticed a tattooed number on her arm. Ibrahim, who had never experienced a Passover seder before, spontaneously decided to stay with her while she conducted her seder and speak to her about her incredible story.
Another remarkable opportunity for United Hatzalah to shine was when the elderly of Israel were required to receive the Corona vaccine. Right away, United Hatzalah set up a program to help transport elderly patients to safely get vaccinated.
When news of the transports was broadcasted nationally, United Hatzalah received a call from the granddaughter of a 90-Year-Old woman. She was worried about her grandmother who hadn’t been out of the house for almost 5 years. Miriam, the elderly woman, was picked up by 4 United Hatzalah volunteers, who helped her down her apartment steps and into an ambulance. They drove her to Rishon LeZion beach where the granddaughter and grandmother had the most beautiful day together.
From Terror to Joy:
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Michael Cohen treated a soldier who was stabbed by a terrorist in 2015. Six years later, when the soldier was fully recovered, Michael received an invite to his wedding. They danced their hearts out together. The former soldier had experienced such a difficult trauma but always remembered the EMT who helped save his life.
In another example, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Dvir Adani, a Tel Aviv resident with purple hair and lots of earrings, got an invitation to attend the wedding of an ultra-orthodox man he had saved in a horrific car accident a few years before. Diversity didn’t stand in the way of their joy. Their picture says it all.
Lastly, who can forget the story that went viral, when Muawia Kahba, a Muslim volunteer, went beyond his call of duty when saving the life of a woman who was already pronounced dead in a terrible car accident. He believed this woman could come back to life and she did through his tremendous CPR efforts. A few years later, he spoke under her chuppah. You can watch the deeply emotional speech here.
A Look At Ten Kavod - No Man Left Behind:
The Ten Kavod program, in English “Give Respect”, was established in 2013 to prevent the deterioration of medical health among the senior population and to alleviate their feelings of loneliness.
In recent years, United Hatzalah has distributed heaters and blankets, performed light home renovations, connected senior citizens to other aid organizations for the provision of hot meals, and more.
A few months ago, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Orli Kadosh, the founder of a local community initiative “Adopt a Senior”, came to the home of an elderly man with no family to care for him, to deliver a hot food package. When he didn’t open the door, Orli, who has a long-standing relationship with United Hatzalah Chapter Head and local coordinator of the organization’s Ten Kavod project Vicki Tiferet, called Vicki and told her that she is worried about the man since he wasn’t coming to his door.
Vicki wasted no time and requested that help be sent immediately due to the suspicion that the man requires medical assistance. Emergency medical volunteers from the organization were dispatched to the scene, and Vicki herself went as well.
When they arrived inside his apartment, they discovered a living nightmare. There was moldy food in the fridge, the floor was dirty and flooded in certain areas, pipes were leaking, and the entire place was in a state of disarray. Two volunteers offered to take the elderly man to get a corona test because he was not feeling well, while the others decided to surprise the man and clean his apartment. The volunteers washed the floors, walls, bathrooms, and appliances. They cleaned out the fridge and threw away the moldy food. Some went shopping and purchased fresh food with money that was donated from other volunteers who weren’t able to participate in person. All of this was done to make sure that the man was taken care of for the next few days until they arranged something for the long term.
United Hatzalah EMT and volunteer Talia Asher from Mevaseret Zion also visited an elderly woman as part of the organization’s Ten Kavod project. Talia went to check on the woman’s vital signs and spent some time with her.
Upon arriving at the address, Talia noted that the building in which the woman lived was very old. She entered the building and knocked on the woman’s door. The elderly woman opened the door and welcomed Talia into her apartment. Talia was shocked by what she saw. The walls of the apartment were cracked so badly and in so many places, that Talia thought they might endanger the structural integrity of the entire building itself. She photographed the walls for the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs who sent an engineer to visit the apartment for further inspection.
Upon inspection of the building, the engineer decided that all of the residents needed to evacuate immediately because the building was at risk of imminent collapse. The elderly woman was placed at a hotel at no charge and was incredibly moved by the experience. Talia’s act of kindness saved the lives of all of the residents of the building, including the life of the senior, whom she had originally intended to visit.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yinon Tubul was driving in Be’er Sheva when he came across a motor vehicle accident. A female driver had been involved in an accident and sustained mild injuries. Yinon stopped to see if she needed medical attention.
Policemen confirmed that the woman was driving under the influence of alcohol and consequently was going to be taken into custody. One of the officers told Yinon that the woman had originally fled the scene but returned half an hour later to collect her damaged car. While the officers spoke to the injured woman, Yinon approached the car and noticed a child’s car seat belted into the back. Yinon asked the woman if there was a child in the car with her when she crashed. The woman responded by saying no, but that she does have a one-year-old daughter at home.
Yinon updated the officers immediately and told them he would drive quickly to the house to see what was going on there. The woman reluctantly handed them the key to her apartment. She immediately regretted it and fought to get the key back, denying them entry to her home. Yinon called the United Hatzalah Dispatch Center and received permission to enter the woman’s house because the child’s life was in danger.
When he arrived at the apartment, he was surprised to find it in complete darkness. The one-year-old girl was sitting on the floor playing peacefully in a darkroom. After about 10 minutes the police arrived, and after an hour, a social worker from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services arrived as well. Yinon had saved the young life while also uncovering dark secrets of financial distress. The woman had originally told Yinon that her baby was hungry and had not eaten for a long time, so he prepared a bottle with formula to feed the child. The woman refused to provide any information about the father of the baby. However, after many inquiries, the social services were able to contact the father and he quickly left work and came to the apartment, arriving approximately 30 minutes later.
The Way to a Man’s Heart:
One of our volunteers was badly injured in a terrible car accident on the way to a call. He operates a falafel shop and was worried about his business and how he would continue to make a living and support his family, now that he was injured. Word got out and the rest of our volunteers thought to themselves, how hard can it be to serve falafel? With that, they organized shifts to come down and run the falafel shop while the EMT was recovering. Medics came from all over Israel, including Eli Beer, as you can see in the movie here. When news of the effort reached the patient, he was brought to tears.
Providing Emotional Care In a Stressful Situation:
After an 88-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest in his bedroom in Haifa, a group of United Hatzalah volunteers rushed over to his house to save him. Once he was safely transported to the hospital, the daughter of the patient started to cry hysterically and suffered from panic and post-trauma stress. The medics stayed with her for hours until she calmed down. The emotional support provided by United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma Crisis and Response Unit helps everyone throughout Israel by caring for their emotional and psychological needs.
We hope that you received a great deal of insight into the special world of United Hatzalah and the faces behind the orange vests.
How will you pay it forward today?
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